Document: Palestinian NGO's objection to Israeli "Heritage" ties to biblical
sites illustrates absence of pluralism
Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA:
Here is where we are:
1. There are numerous places in the "Holy Land" beyond the "Green Line" that
are intimately linked to Jewish history and thus to Jewish identity and
heritage. Recognizing these historical links in now way rules out a priori
that some of these places may not be under Israeli control in a final status
2. There are numerous places in "Historical Palestine" within the "Green
Line" that are intimately linked to the history of Arab Palestinians and
thus to the identity and heritage of Palestinian Arabs. Recognizing these
historical links in now way rules out these places (Jaffo, for example) will
remain under Israeli control in a final status arrangement.
3. In the instance that a place that is holy to both Islam and other
religions is under Moslem control, non-Moslem prayer is prohibited at the
4. As demonstrated in the "Tomb of the Patriarchs" (a place that is holy to
both Judaism and other religions is under Israeli control), non-Jewish
prayer is also accommodated at the site.
5. As for the Hague and Geneva Conventions cited, inasmuch as Israel has
preserved and improved rather than destroyed,.are we to understand that the
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights believes that international law somehow
supports discrimination against Jews in places holy to Jews and Moslems?
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Date: 22 February 2010
Time: 11:30 GMT
PCHR Condemns Israel's Decision to Include the Ibrahimi Mosque and Bilal Ben
Rabah Mosque on the List of Israeli Archaeological Sites
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns a decisions taken by
the Israeli government on Sunday, 21 February 2010, to include the "Tomb of
the Patriarch" (the Ibrahimi Mosque) in Hebron and "Rachel Tomb" (Bilal Ben
Rabah Mosque) in Bethlehem on the list of Israeli archaeological sites.
PCHR reminds that this decision was taken on the eve of the 16th anniversary
of the mass killing of 29 Palestinian worshippers in the Ibrahimi Mosque by
an Israeli settler, Baroch Goldstein, on 25 February 1994. PCHR further
emphasizes that the continued international tolerance towards crimes
committed by Israel, the Occupying Power, serves to encourage it to commit
more of such crimes. Accordingly, PCHR repeats its calls for the
international community to provide protection for Palestinian civilians,
their property and their religious sites.
In its weekly meeting held on Sunday, 21 February 2010, the Israeli
government endorsed the inclusion of the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron and Bilal
Ben Rabah Mosque in Bethlehem on the list of Israeli archaeological sites.
It also allocated more than US$ one million for "their maintenance and
reparation." The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, linked the
decision with the policy of settlement expansion in the Occupied Palestinian
Territory (OPT) when stating that: "Our existence as a state does not only
depend on the army, but also on enhancing our knowledge, our national
feeling, which we will convey to the next generation, and our connection to
the homeland." Under the plan, 150 archaeological sites will be maintained
to be linked in a joint "historical biblical track" in order to "educate the
next generation of the Jewish and Zionist history."
It is worth noting that Israeli occupation authorities established the
"Shamgar Committee" following the mass killing in the Ibrahimi Mosque on 25
February 1994 The committee recommended dividing the Mosque between Muslims
and Jews (30% and 70% respectively).
In light of the above, PCHR emphasizes the following:
1) The Israeli government's decision constitutes a violation of
Article 1 of the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in
the Event of Armed Conflict of 1954, which defines, inter alia, cultural
property as " movable or immovable property of great importance to the
cultural heritage of every people, such as monuments of architecture, art or
history, whether religious or secular.," and states in Article 2 that " the
protection of cultural property shall comprise the safeguarding of and
respect for such property."
2) Article 9 of the Second Protocol to the Hague Convention for the
Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 1954
prohibits and prevents "any illicit export, other removal or transfer of
ownership of cultural property."
3) Article 147 of the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the
Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War considers "extensive
destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military
necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly" as a grave breach of the
4) PCHR warns of possible escalation of the situation in the OPT given
the religious status of the Ibrahimi Mosque for Muslims, and holds Israeli
occupation authorities responsible for any escalation.
Accordingly, PCHR calls:
1) For convening a new conference of the High Contracting Parties to
the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time
of War to take concrete steps to ensure Israel's respect for the Convention
in the OPT, and to immediately provide protection for Palestinian civilians
and their civilian and cultural property.
2) Upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention Relative
to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War to fulfill their
obligations under Article 146 of the Convention "to search for persons
alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed" grave
breaches of the Convention; Israeli war criminal in this case.
3) For the application of Article 10 of the Second Protocol to the
Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of
Armed Conflict of 1954, which allows placing cultural property under
enhanced protection, if "it is cultural heritage of the greatest importance
for humanity" and "it is not used for military purposes."
For more information please call PCHR office in Gaza, Gaza Strip, on +972 8
2824776 - 2825893
PCHR, 29 Omer El Mukhtar St., El Remal, PO Box 1328 Gaza, Gaza Strip.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Webpage http://www.pchrgaza.org
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